Tuesday, December 28, 2010

flower girl

A sweet flower painting I made for Bryce, my niece for Christmas.

"For Bryce"
tea-stained paper with ink, gouache, watercolor and superfine glitter

Monday, December 27, 2010

Afternoon Craft Time with Nannie

It's become a part of our daily routine to have some "table time" after tea in the afternoons.  Sometimes the kids play with playdough, or do stickers or a workbook or color or do some type of art/craft.  It's become a favorite part of the day - and even more fun with Nannie!

Creepy Walnut Babies

Anna's finished product - a button path


Mom and I took the kids to the park with the sled.  I didn't really expect them to go down the hill...

They LOVED it!  (and napped very well!)

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Muppets: Ringing of the Bells


Through My 3 yr old's Eyes

A few weeks ago, we let Adrianna play with an old digital camera.  Surprising us both, she LOVES it and has been taking pictures non-stop.  Here are some of my favorites.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making Coconut Macaroons with Nannie

My mom fell into the habit of bringing cookies for the kids each time she visits.  Now, she is greeted at the door with shouts of "Nannie Cookies! Nannie Cookies".  This time however, Nannie decided to bring the ingredients and make the Nannie cookies here.  Kitchen helpers thought that was a fine idea.

Measure 3 cups of coconut

Add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Get every drip!


Taste test!

 Coconut Macaroons


  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Generously grease baking sheets. Combine all ingredients; stir until well blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 1 inch apart, on prepared baking sheets. Press down with the back of spoon to even thickness. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, or until macaroons are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from baking sheet.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Money Money Money

Adrianna has always LOVED coins.  MONEY!  She finds coins everywhere.  In the couch, in Daddy's night-table drawer (and a little lesson on stealing), on the sidewalk, in the car etc.  She has a piggy bank and it is quite full.  Lately we've been practicing the Charlotte Mason-ish "habit of observation" - taking time to really look at and observe things.  We've examined each coin in detail.  Adrianna can now identify each coin and knows how much each one is worth (although, doesn't understand the concept of how much each one is really worth).  Her favorite quiet time activity is to sort a handful of coins and stack the coins and "buy" various items from me. 

"Mom, how much for a book?" 
"2 pennies and a nickel." 
She then proceeds to give me (reluctantly) the correct coins (which I then have to promptly give back to her).

Obviously this child-directed learning is math related on many levels.  Sorting (which is an important preschool math skill), compare and contrast, numerals and denominations, money (duh) etc.

Mommy: "What do you want to buy with all your money?"
Adrianna: "I know!!!  MORE money!"
ah, our little investor.

Snowman Craft

I decided to stay home all day Saturday and just have a quiet home day.  Kids in pajamas until 10.  Cartoons.  Stories.  Crafts.

I cut out some white construction paper circles that the kids glued together to make snowmen.  I intended to also cut out little hats and scarves and buttons and googly eyes.  However, Nate was more interested in turning the glue stick up ALL the way and then trying to smoosh it down. 

Adrianna had her own creative ideas.  She worked for close to an hour to get her snowman just HER way.

If you look closely, you'll notice that she would ONLY use Christmas and winter themed stickers.  It's one of my favorite pieces of art that she has created.

Winter Nature Study

We have been blessed here to have fresh snow and warm enough weather (only -8) to go outside and enjoy it - at least for a few minutes!

We have discovered SNOW, icicles, blocks of ice with dirt and bits of leaves frozen inside, and tracked the squirrel (?) tracks left in the snow.

I can only assume these are squirrel tracks as we have a TON of squirrels here.  Or a bunny?  I know we have skunks and raccoons but do they run around in winter or do they hibernate?  I have no idea.  Obviously, somebody is visiting our yard!

This is new to me!

Adrianna also discovered that "drawing" in snow is pretty cool too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

If Life Gives you Mushy Bananas, Make MUFFINS (and add some chocolate!)

We always seem to have very ripe bananas sitting around.  We always buy bananas but none of us love them so they sit until they are brown and then I make muffins.

I've found this to be the simplest and tastiest recipe for yummy banana muffins.  I always add chocolate chips (kids call them chocolate muffins).

Banana Muffins (makes 12 muffins)
3 or 4 Large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 slightly beaten egg
1/3 cup melted margarine or butter (I use a mixture of melted butter and applesauce to equal 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Mix the mashed banana, sugar, egg and butter/applesauce together. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Mix wet and dry ingredients all together! Pour into greased muffin tins, and bake in 350 degrees F oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Best little helper EVER!

ready yet?

Worth the wait!

ps.  Check out the rest of her blog Cat Can Cook - I plan to try out the eggnog cookies and cranberry muffins in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Charlotte Mason on the "Habit of Obedience"

The language may be a bit outdated, but WOW, was she ever wise!
"The mother's great stronghold is in the habit of obedience. If she begin by requiring that her children always obey her, why, they will always do so as a matter of course; but let them once get the thin end of the wedge in, let them discover that they can do otherwise than obey, and a woeful struggle begins, which commonly ends in the children doing that which is right in their own eyes.

This is the sort of thing which is fatal: The children are in the drawing room, and a caller is announced. 'You must go upstairs now.' 'Oh, mother dear, do let us stay in the window-corner; we will be as quiet as mice!' The mother is rather proud of her children's pretty manners, and they stay. They are not quiet, of course; but that is the least of the evils; they have succeeded in doing as they chose and not as they were bid, and they will not put their necks under the yoke again without a struggle. It is in little matters that the mother is worsted. 'Bedtime, Willie!' 'Oh, mamma, just let me finish this'; and the mother yields, forgetting that the case in point is of no consequence; the thing that matters is that the child should be daily confirming a habit of obedience by the unbroken repetition of acts of obedience. It is astonishing how clever the child is in finding ways of evading the spirit while he observes the letter. 'Mary, come in.' 'Yes, mother'; but her mother calls four times before Mary comes. 'Put away your bricks'; and the bricks are put away with slow reluctant fingers. 'You must always wash your hands when you hear the first bell.' The child obeys for that once, and no more.

To avoid these displays of willfulness (wilLESSnes), the mother will insist from the first on an obedience which is prompt, cheerful, and lasting--save for lapses of memory on the child's part. Tardy, unwilling, occasional obedience is hardly worth the having; and it is greatly easier to give the child the habit of perfect obedience by never allowing him in anything else, than it is to obtain this mere formal obedience by a constant exercise of authority.

By-and-by, when he is old enough, take the child into confidence; let him know what a noble thing it is to be able to make himself do, in a minute, and brightly, the very thing he would rather not do. To secure this habit of obedience, the mother must exercise great self-restraint; she must never give a command which she does not intend to see carried out to the full. And she must not lay upon her children burdens, grievous to be borne, of command heaped upon command."
My bright 3-yr old daughter is a master negotiator.  And I have fallen into the trap of her negotiations more than once and reaped the just reward of a daughter who is VERY reluctant to obey at all!  The battles we have now as we work to instill this habit of obedience!  How I wish we had implemented this earlier.  Nathaniel, at not quite 2.5 years has a much better grasp on obedience as he has never had any other choice (we'd figured out his sister's game by then!).  Again, I must stress, as I am constantly surprised, this is HARD WORK on the part of the parent!!!

Habit Training

There are days when I feel like all I am doing is habit training.  (aka discipline!).  Habits we are currently working on:
  • Stay in bed until 7am
  • Tidy up your toys, crafts, clothes etc.
  • Look people in the eye when you are speaking to them or being spoken to
  • Obey the first time
  • Make things right when you have made things wrong (ask forgiveness, receive forgiveness and MOVE on!)
  • Speak politely - say please, thank you, you're welcome, excuse me
  • Use your words - tantrums, screaming and other "fits of rage" are not allowed
  • Sit at the table and use proper utensils when eating
  • "Yes Mommy", "Yes Daddy"
I know there are more but these ones stand out as the top priority at this stage.  It is a LOT of work.  But, I do believe (HOPE) that it will reap a rich reward of respectful, enjoyable and self-controlled children who grow into the same adults.  Children that I and others can enjoy.  Adults that can thrive.  I hope.

You know what the hardest part of habit training is?  Realizing that I need to develop most of these habits in myself!  Speak politely - I need to work on the words that come out of my mouth when I am frustrated!  Tidy up after yourself - yikes - don't look too hard at my kitchen or my pile of laundry!  However, the biggest habit I have learned and the one I have worked the hardest to instill in my children is to make things right when you have made things wrong.  I have apologized to my children more times then I can count - mostly for yelling.  Hopefully they will grow up knowing that there is grace. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Adrianna's Christmas Concert

Nate was allowed to join in - he was thrilled.  This was at the retirement home.  The real concert is on Friday.

(Nate is on the end and Adrianna is the girl with the blue barrettes)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tis the Season

What a fun Christmas Season! 

Decorating Gingerbread Cookies

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Decorating Christmas Cards



Warm snuggles after shoveling snow

Tired snuggles with a favorite Great Uncle.

And it's not even Christmas yet!

Our Worldwide Classroom
Christmas Fun 2010